Bitcoin and Wall Street: Insights from Alex Thorn of Galaxy Digital

At the recent MicroStrategy World: Bitcoin for Corporations conference, Alex Thorn, Head of Research at Galaxy Digital, provided valuable insights into the evolving landscape of Bitcoin adoption by Wall Street and corporations.

In an interview with Bitcoin Magazine, Thorn explored how Wall Street has begun to embrace Bitcoin, the dual nature of Bitcoin’s role as both a treasury asset and a technological tool and how both institutional investors are beginning to see bitcoin as more of a safe haven asset.

Bitcoin: Treasury Asset Or Technological Tool?

When asked whether corporations are more likely to view Bitcoin (BTC) as a treasury asset or utilize its underlying technology, Thorn acknowledged that there would likely be some of both.

“That’s the same question we have about regular users,” he noted. Drawing on insights from David Marcus of LightSpark, who also spoke at the event, Thorn highlighted how Bitcoin’s use varies by region and need.

In countries with depreciating currencies, Bitcoin serves as a store of value. Conversely, in places like Bitcoin Beach in El Salvador, there’s a strong enthusiasm for using it as a medium of exchange.

Thorn emphasized the potential for corporations to leverage Bitcoin technology for global money transfers.

Companies could benefit from solutions like LightSpark, OpenNode, and Voltage, which facilitate the use of Bitcoin’s Lightning Network as a payment rail without necessarily holding the asset, according to Thorn.

“It’s honestly hard to know,” Thorn concluded, indicating that both uses are viable depending on the context.

Normalizing Bitcoin

The conversation then shifted to Wall Street’s adoption of Bitcoin and the effect of the spot Bitcoin ETFs.

Thorn confirmed that Bitcoin is becoming more normalized, partly due to the proliferation of accessible investment vehicles like spot Bitcoin ETFs.

“There’s a multitude of ways to access bitcoin right now,” he explained.

“You’ve not only got these ETFs, which are super easy to access for both retail and institutions, but you also have had, for several years now, institutional companies — Galaxy is one of them — that make it easy for institutions to buy spot bitcoin, let alone the Rivers, Swans and Coinbases,” he added.

Thorn also pointed out the macroeconomic factors driving Bitcoin’s attractiveness. He noted a growing acknowledgment among financial leaders, such as Jamie Dimon and Jay Powell, about the unsustainability of US national debt, which has traditionally been a viewpoint held by gold advocates.

This realization has made it an increasingly appealing investment.

“We see this when we talk to macro hedge funds,” Thorn said before highlighting that many have been trading bitcoin for years.

Bitcoin ETFs and Corporate Treasuries

Addressing the potential impact of spot Bitcoin ETFs on corporate treasuries, Thorn drew parallels with the gold market post-2006, following the approval of the first gold ETF.

While he acknowledged Bitcoin’s historical four-year boom and bust cycles, he suggested that current interest is driven by more sophisticated factors than in the past.

“It’s not just a wave of people first hearing about Bitcoin,” Thorn stated, implying a deeper, more strategic interest among investors.

Thorn observed a growing curiosity among long-term investors like endowments and pensions, who are re-engaging with Bitcoin after initial hesitations.

These investors, with longer time horizons, see bitcoin as a hedge in a volatile risk environment, according to Thorn.

“Bitcoin is in this chasm between risk and hedging,” Thorn explained, indicating that while bitcoin is not yet trading as a mainstream hedge, its perception is evolving.

Generational Shifts and Future Adoption

Finally, the discussion touched on the generational dynamics influencing Bitcoin adoption.

Thorn acknowledged that older generations are often hesitant to embrace new technologies. However, he noted that the introduction of spot Bitcoin ETFs could ease this transition by simplifying access.

“The younger generations more [quickly adopt] innovation,” Thorn noted before adding that as wealth is transferred to younger generations more familiar with bitcoin, adoption rates may increase.

Thorn also highlighted the role of financial advisors in this transition.

Many people rely on advisors to manage their investments, and as spot Bitcoin ETFs become available on wealth management platforms, advisors can introduce bitcoin to their clients’ portfolios. This could drive significant inflows from older demographics who might otherwise be reluctant to engage with the asset directly.

In conclusion, Alex Thorn’s insights from the conference underscore the multifaceted future of Bitcoin.

Whether as a treasury asset, a technological tool, or a macroeconomic hedge, Bitcoin’s role is expanding.

As generational shifts occur and spot Bitcoin ETFs become more prevalent, bitcoin’s adoption among corporations and individual investors alike is poised to grow.